7th Armored Division September 1944 Dead
Later Recovered from Vicinity of Sillegny, France

by 7th Armored Division Association Historian Wesley Johnston
Bookmark this page as http://www.7thArmdDiv.org/sillegny-recoveries.htm
Last updated: October 10, 2016 - What's New?
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Overview

Elements of the 7th Armored Division first attacked Sillegny, France, in the early hours of 19 September 1944, attempting to reach and cross the Seille River just east of the village. Sillegny is a quiet little village, blessed with one of the few French churches with Italian frescoes. But for several days, it was Hell on Earth. The Germans had evacutated the civilian population, and they had built a pill box at the road junction southeast of town. The pillbox provided direct fire on the only road into town from the forest about 2 kilometers to the west. The 7AD troops dug in at the east edge of the forest. There was nothing but flat, downward sloping open ground -- completely exposed -- between the forest and the village. The Germans heavily mined the field north of the road, the field called the Field of Six Days (Le Champ des Six Jours). Many of the men who fell there remained there until the area was de-mined in 1946.

The 7th Armored Division continued to press the attacks to reach the Seille for several days. But the Division was needed in the Netherlands to bolster the east flank of the salient created by Operation Market Garden, so that the Division withdrew west of the Moselle and then on 25 September began the march north to the Netherlands.

The Division left behind many who had been killed but not recovered.

This web page brings together the records of all of those thus far known as recovered from the vicinity of Sillegny and those still unaccounted who died in the area at that time. The hope is that by compiling all of these records in one place, a better understanding can lead to hope for finding the remains of those still unaccounted, as well as providing the families of those men killed with some idea of what happened in their soldier's final hours.

Contents
  • Context Maps
  • Those Recovered

  • Context Maps
    Click on any map to see it full size.
    While there will be maps for specific soldiers or groups, this section brings together the various maps of the overall area.

    Overall Context

    Under construction

    I do not have the grid maps for this area.

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    Those Recovered

    This list is very much incomplete. At this point, I am presenting the recoveries in chronological order by when they were recovered, so that those recovered together can be easily seen. At some point, I want to provide a table of all of them in at least one different order (maybe alphabetical or alphabetical within unit or chronological by date of death).

    Note that any referenced PDFs are those of Individual Deceased Personnel Files (IDPFs) of those killed. The PDF files for these men are in the image files for their battalion/squadron in the 7th Armored Division Document Repository's images files.

    1944 - November 26

    When 7th Armored Division attacked Sillegny, the 5th Infantry Division attacked the area to their left, north of Sillegny. Both were attached to XX Corps, and 5ID remained with XX Corps. After the area was finally secured -- two months later -- men of 5ID's 11th Infantry Regiment found the remains at Sillegny of three men, one of whom was Unknown but was definitely identified as a 7th Armored Division man..

    • 38th Armored Infantry Battalion
      • Costanzo, Vincent J. (C/38) - Rank: Pfc. - Last Day on Duty: 1944-Sep-19 - Last Duty Location: attaacking Sillegny, France, probably through the minefield in the Field of Six Days
      • Schwartz, Willis R. (A/38) - Rank: Pfc. - Last Day on Duty: 1944-Sep-22 - Last Duty Location: vicinity of Sillegny, France
      • Unknown recovered with Costanzo and Schwartz - definitely identified as 7th Armored Division, but might not be 38 AIB
    26 Nov 1944 Unknown
    Click on image for full size.

    The page shown above is the last page of an "Unresolved Case" folder for France. The PDF file of the folder (click here to see the entire 37-page PDF file of the folder) was sent to me 29 September 2016 by 3rd Armored Division researcher Jed Henry. It is a collection of miscellaneous cases, with the above page being the only page relevant to this case.

    The sheet, dated 26 November 1944, was completed by Pvt. Carl Nameth (15 014 974) of Service Company, 11th Infantry Regiment, 5th Infantry Division. The Regiment found the remains of Costanzo, Schwartz and the Unknown. A very rough map places the remains (if the "X" on the map is the location of the remains) of the three men a short distance west of the road just west of the village. The map coordinates are given as 447-848 on France 1:25,000 sheet 13. I do not have this grid map, so that I cannot place the location precisely.

    Vincent Costanzo's Individual Deceased Personnel File (click here to see the 48-page PDF file of the IDPF) shows (PDF pp 21-24) that his remains were buried by the 609th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company at the Limey, France, temporary U. S. military cemetery on 28 November 1944 in Plot L, Row 4, Grave 79, with a 95th Infantry Division man in grave 78 and a 5th Infantry Division man in grave 80. There is no record in the file of Schwartz or the Unknown.

    Willis Schwartz's Individual Deceased Personnel File (click here to see the 31-page PDF file of the IDPF) shows (PDF pp 13-14) that his remains were buried by the 609th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company at the Limey, France, temporary U. S. military cemetery on 28 November 1944 in Plot L, Row 2, Grave 49, with an identified 7th Armored Division man ("Konkel 36150974") in grave 48 and a 26th Infantry Division man in grave 50. There is no record in the file of Costanzo or the Unknown.

    So who was the Unknown 7th Armored Division man, and what X number was he assigned at Limey by the 609th QM GR Co.?

    There are two main possibiities.

    1. Was the Unknown really T/4 George A. Konkel (36 150 974) who was initially buried at Limey next to Willis Schwartz?
      It seems very unlikley, for two main reasons.
      1. First, Konkel was a member of 5th Infantry Division's own 7th Engineer Combat Battalion. (He is shown on the ABMC web site, since his final burial was at the Lorraine (St. Avold) US Military Cemetery.) So the 11th Infantry Regiment would not be likely to have confused "7th Engineer Combat Battalion" and "7th Armored Division". It is of course possible that someone just said "7th" meaing the Engineers and the form was filled out in the mistaken belief that he meant 7th Armored Division. Clearly the GR burial team recorded Konkel as 7AD, so that it is unlcear where along the way the error was made. So this is not a definitive resolution.
      2. Second, Konkel died November 24, 1944. I do not have Konkel's IDPF, so that I cannot see where he was killed. But on that date, the area of Sillegny had been in secure U. S. control and no longer a battlefield for well over a month. So it is highly unlikely that his remains would be recovered with two 7AD men at a location specifically shown with a hand-drawn map of Sillegny.

    2. The Unknown was a Limey "X", recovered 26 November 1944.

      Neither of the IDPFs of the men recovered with the Unknown provide any information about which X number he was assigned, other than that the recoveries were buried at Limey by the 609 QM GR Co. So it seems highly likely that a Limey "X" recovered at this time and buried within the same plot L several days after 28 November (assuming a delay of a few days in order for the GR men to try to identify the remains) -- possibly after having been identified -- would have been him.

      I do not have the Limey plat maps, showing the initial burials in the temporary cemetery. There are apparently only 12 Limey Unknowns who have never been identified: X-15, 22, 47, 54, 55. 60, 66, 75, 79, 80, 81, 83, 85. I do have the IDPFs for these (click here).

      • The following can be ruled out.
        • X-15 was recovered from a canal at Metz (PDF p 8). He was delivered to the cemetery 30 Nov 1944. The scan of the IDPF is incomplete, since it failed to include the verso of the Report of Burial.
        • X-22 was recovered between Jouy-aux-Arches and Corny (PDF p 3) on 18 Dec 1944. (most probably 5ID in the Dornot Bridgehead - shoe size 9EE)
        • X-47 was recovered from the Moselle River at Metz (PDF p 7). He was initially buried 23 April 1945.
        • All subsequent X numbers, since they clearly were assigned well after 26 November 1944.

    So, it seems highly likely that this Unknown was assigned an X number below 15. There is a PDF file labeled "X REF POS IDENT (LIMEY, FRANCE).pdf" (click here), but it is mis-labeled, since it contains 121 pages of Liege, Belgium, Mausoleum identifications. There is also a file labeled "Limey_FR_X-Reference_X-1_thru.pdf" that contains both Limey, France, and Limay, Philippines, cross reference sheets. Limey X-3, 4, 9, 12 and 13 have been identified, but none of them are 7AD men.

    We need to find out the specifics for Limey X-1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11 and 14 (9 men), to see if any of these (a) were identified or (b) had the characteristics of any 7AD men still missing from Sillegny. The case that seems a good possiblity is 38 AIB S-3 Officer Maj. Thomas Wells who was definitely killed near the Sillegny crossroads. One veteran told 7AD Historian Wesley Johnston that he had seen Maj. Wells' body after he was killed. Another told Wesley that he had kept Maj. Wells' helmet. So Maj. Wells' body would definitely have been in the vicinity of the remains of Costanzo and Schwartz and is a strong candidate for being this Unknown. But we need to find the records of these nine Limey Unknowns in order to see what they reveal. And at this point, we do not have those records.

    There is one other research direction to pursue on this Unknown. The Limey X-files show that those cases (X-15 and above) were moved to the cemetery at St. Avold, France. So it seems highly likely that the nine cases we need to know about were also moved to St. Avold and that any of them who are still Unknown are buried now as Unknowns at St. Avold. So the cemetery records of St. Avold or the burial rosters at Limey offer some hope of tracking down the current situation with these nine cases.

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